Sri Lankan free-speech advocates are speaking out against efforts by the government to ban Ashoka Handagama's film Aksharaya (Letter of Fire). Although the film had been approved by the Public Performances Board, the Ministry of Cultural Affairs announced last week that it would not allow the film to be screened because of a key scene in which a pre-teen boy sees his mother nude. The Sri Lankan Free Media Movement has denounced what it called "these ridiculous allegations that FMM strongly feels are being directed against progressive forces in Sri Lankan cinema." Veteran filmmaker Lester James Peries issued a statement calling the film "a serious work, powerful, disturbing (to the fainthearted), a searing attack on all our 'Sacred Cows'" and charged that the government was "creating an undemocratic situation in the field of cinema." On Monday, Handagama told reporters that the PPB had asked him to return the approval letter that he had received for the film.